The standard approach to keyword research for an SEO strategy is based on a quantitative evaluation of the information: a site, a page or a post can contain a keyword a total of times, or not contain it at all.
We transfer this concept to a practical act. I want to buy a house and start my Google search. I search on the search engine by entering the keyword “buy a house in Palermo” (yes, I really live in Palermo) and among the returned results a series of contents appear containing the keyword entered.
Today I’m going to show you How to Find Right Keywords for your Niche. If you target the right keyword then you can get traffic and ranking from Google. Finding the right keywords for a niche is not so easy.
Most people don’t know know how the google search engine works. This is what should be done according to the standard approach to quantitative matrix keyword research. In practice, the results in the SERP related to this research say quite the opposite.
As the screenshot shows, the indexed pages do not contain the entered keyword.
Why then does the search engine return those results? How do you understand what I’m looking for even if I haven’t typed a word in the document?
This practical case concretely shows two aspects:
- We are in the field of semantic SEO, and in particular of a method that has revolutionized – perfecting it – the way in which the “machine” (in this case the Big search engine) analyzes and indexes the content on the web: the Latent Semantic Indexing.
- The results returned in SERP take into account the user’s search intentions and not (only) the entered keyword.
In practice, by asking Google “where to buy a house in Palermo”, the algorithm semantically receives the information contained on the web and provides the results based on the user’s search intention: he wants to buy a new house, and to do so he must consult real estate ads.
This consequently changes the way we have to think and carry out keyword research in SEO.
The ” semantic revolution ” in the SEO field began with Hummingbird, one of the “heaviest” updates of the Google algorithm that since 2013 has gradually introduced new information management criteria with the aim of “humanizing” its operation and make the system more suitable for dialogue with users.
Let’s go into more detail trying to understand what LSI is and how to exploit this “way of thinking” of the search engine for the selection of keywords.
KEYWORD RESEARCH, SEO SEMANTICS = A QUALITATIVE APPROACH
To use a method correctly, I need to know its internal logic. The Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI, in Italian Indexing Semantic Latent) is a keyword research methodology used by search engines to identify the content that a user is looking for a calculation that goes beyond the literal concept of keywords inserted.
The LSI uses a series of semantic associations (therefore taking into account the meaning of the words, in the sense of the relationship between terms and concepts) that link the keywords to other terms that do not necessarily have the same lexical root.
Compared to the past, therefore, the LSI abandons the concept of an exact match (correspondence relationship between query and result) to embrace a type of “semantic” relationship based on relationships between words and concepts contained in a document.
Latent Semantic Indexing actually originates outside the scope of Search Engine Optimization. Its creation aimed at a specific objective: to index and recover information automatically by overcoming a fundamental deficit of some existing information recovery techniques, semantics.
Applied to SEO, this way of indexing and searching for information forces us to rethink the way we search for keywords.
LSI is based on a logical principle: Words used in the same context tend to have similar meanings.
The fundamental characteristic is the ability to identify and extract the conceptual content of a document and answer questions through an evaluation of the other documents in the archive.
Search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing to try to better understand what the user is asking for.
To do this, it first analyzes the indexed documents by linking terms around a concept and then establishes another relationship between the questions that users ask and the concepts that are indexed.
One of the best examples of the application of this technology is the Google Knowledge Graph: based on the search term entered, Google identifies an object, relates it to other objects and returns the results directly to the SERP.
The “traditional” approach (definition of concepts, keyword research and positioning in relevant areas of the document) is absolutely valid and dogmatic, but the one seen so far indicates that search engines increasingly tend to a semantic knowledge of research we do , going beyond the simple search for literal concepts in titles, descriptions and images.
This means that practices such as keyword stuffing (deliberately repeating keywords in the text) or artificiality in the selection of titles, contents and descriptions will be increasingly penalized in favour of natural and “more human” content.
HOW DOES THIS CONCEPT APPLY TO KEYWORD RESEARCH?
Google uses two methods to interpret the meaning of a keyword.
The first is quantitative, i.e. the analysis of websites that are positioned for the same keyword from which the most common words found in texts are extracted (standard approach).
The second method is qualitative and respects the principles of the LSI seen so far by focusing on the semantic and lexical relationships between words or expressions.
Research through the interaction of these two methods creates classifications and categories. It is an interaction between a taxonomy of coincident terms and a taxonomy of semantic fields and lexical families.
NB: We call semantic field a group of words which are linked by meaning and belong to the same grammatical category (e.g. semantic field of transport: motorcycles, cars, trucks, bikes, etc.). We call lexical family all the words that share the same lexeme or root and, consequently, have some relationship of meaning (e.g. lexical family: wall, wall, bricklayer, brickwork, etc.).
HOW TO DO A KEYWORD RESEARCH: BETWEEN INTENTIONS AND MEANINGS
Before diving into keyword research it is important to understand the different types of keywords. To begin with, let’s consider two factors:
- Research intention
- Search volume
The search intention is nothing more than the reason that drives the user to carry out a search, and we can classify the keywords into 3 types :
- Informational: They enter to search for information of different types. For example today’s events in the city, Palermo weather today, how to prepare pizza, etc.
- Transactional: The purpose of the research is to complete a transaction. For example: download an image or ebook, buy an SEO course, buy a trip, etc.
- Navigational: Search is intended to find a specific website. For example Facebook, eBay, TagliaBlog 🙂, etc.
The search volume, on the other hand, simply indicates the number of searches carried out for a keyword and we can divide it into three groups based on the specificity of the keyword:
- Head: keywords consisting of a single term, with high search volume and high competition.
- Medium tail: more specific searches, consisting of 2 or 3 terms. Less competition than the “head” and lower search volumes.
- Long tail: Hyper-specific searches consisting of 4 or more words, with little competition and mostly transactional. And this is where the most concrete opportunities are found!
START YOUR SEARCH USING THE “BRAIN”
It may seem trivial, but the best thing to do is to start the research by asking yourself a series of questions that allow you to construct a first guideline of the keywords:
- What is the heart of my content in one sentence? – Real estate ads
- Who I am? – Real estate agency in Palermo
- What services do I offer? – Purchase, sale and rental of properties
- What is my customer profile? – Newly married couples looking for a house in Palermo
- Does my company have a physical location? – Yes, the agency’s headquarters are in via XYZ in Palermo
Now collect all the information and voila! You made your first list of keywords:
- Palermo Real Estate
- Palermo Real Estate Agency
- Purchase of Properties
- Real Estate Sale
- Houses for Couples in Palermo
- Selling Home Online
- Houses for Rent in Palermo
- Houses for Sale in Palermo
It is important at this point to create an Excel document in which to insert all the identified keywords and to group the keywords into categories.
Following the example of real estate ads, we can identify five main categories:
- Palermo real estate
- Real estate agency in Palermo
- Houses for sale in Palermo
- Houses for rent in Palermo
- Selling a house in Palermo
EXPAND YOUR KEYWORD LIST WITH FREE TOOLS
Once you have found a first temporary list of keywords, you can use some free tools to refine the analysis and make it more specific and functional for your purpose.
You have certainly used this Google tool hundreds of times. Google uses autocomplete to add to the search term that you are typing a series of keyword suggestions and which, as it officially declares, are selected based on the popularity of the searches (in addition to the history of specific user searches made in the past).
To continue the work of selecting keywords, enter the keywords that correspond to the categories identified in the search bar. Here’s what the suggestions for the previously selected keywords look like:
The suggestions provided by Google are the new keywords that you can insert in the previously created Excel sheet.
To optimize the process and not having to do hours of useless work afterwards, it is good to associate the new keywords with the reference category, so that you can use that group of related keywords to expand the lexical complexity and meaning of a given section or site page.
Example: the keyword “Homes for sale in Palermo” could be the title of the category, to be associated with suggestions on “areas” to divide the website into further sub-categories in which to insert the different types of ads.
GOOGLE ADWORDS KEYWORD PLANNER
Your Excel sheet should contain a fairly complete list of keywords to use, now the most important process arrives, namely deciding which keywords have priority in the list.
To do this, we use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Enter the program, select the “Find new keywords and get search volume data” option and activate the “Show only ideas strictly related to my search terms” option.
Once you set up the tool, follow these two steps to retrieve the information relevant to your purpose:
- Copy your list of keywords contained in the Excel file and paste it into “your product or service”.
- Sort the results by the number of monthly searches by clicking on “Average monthly searches” and download the entire list of keywords in CSV format for Excel (just click on “Download”).
Eliminate unnecessary columns leaving only “Keyword” and “Average monthly searches” (Avg. Monthly Searches) to sort the data and make it easier to understand. Now you have an Excel file with the complete list of keywords to use for your web project.
4 TIPS TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF KEYWORDS & SEMANTIC RELEVANCE OF THE CONTENT
The work done so far is almost complete. Here I want to suggest four other techniques that I use to insert new keywords in my list to make the sphere of terms and meanings richer and more complete than I am going to insert in my contents.
SEARCH FOR SYNONYMS
As simple as drinking a glass of water. Selecting and using synonyms of the concepts we want to position is an effective technique. A faithful companion to use to locate them is the dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. I almost always use that of the Courier.
For example, inserting the term “home” (to return to the example with which I opened this post), interesting results are returned such as “home, accommodation, apartment, condominium, building, tenement house, building, villa, cottage, cottage, farmhouse, cottage, cottage, etc. “.
This, in the case of a real estate ad site (we remain on the case used in this post), translates into the insertion of these synonyms in the descriptions of the various real estate advertisements on the site.
The advantage is twofold: by using synonyms, the type of property being viewed is communicated more precisely to the user and, on the other hand, it helps the search engine to understand the text and its value.
USE THE TERMS IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE
In most cases, we use terms that already exist in our language to explain technical concepts or refer to a specific sector. In Web Marketing, for example, terms such as “eCommerce”, “landing page” or “call to action” replace the Italian namesakes “electronic commerce”, “landing page” or “call to action”.
Sometimes this happens because certain words become part of the vocabulary of our language and, therefore, begin to have a semantic relevance in the content. Using both variants (Italian and original language) will give greater value to your content.
But be careful of the singular and plural of the English terms (the most used ones). There is a very specific rule that indicates when to put the “s” and when not. As the Accademia Della Crusca website writes, “it is, therefore, a question of considering, from time to time, whether the forestry we intend to use has been acquired permanently and for some time in Italian and in this case we can leave it unchanged, or if instead it is a recent neologism or a highly specialized term and then it is advisable to use the plural of the original language “.
THE DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION METHOD
The deduction uses the general rule to explain the particular case. The induction method, on the other hand, does the opposite, using the particular case to go back to the general rule.
In both cases, what is highlighted is the relationship between the whole and the part (or vice versa). The concept may appear abstract, but working using these “scales” will allow you to choose new keywords.
For example, starting from the concept of “home”, we can deduce the terms “villa”, “apartment”, “farmhouse” and “attic”, and work on these keywords for a possible expansion of the keyword list. Or, we could induce terms such as “property” or “home” from “home”.
Of the two systems, the first is more efficient, since it takes us from the whole to the part and therefore provides specificity to the keyword (which, as we have anticipated talking about long tail, means less competition and more adequacy).
On the other hand, however, we must not rule out the second method of positioning more general concepts that reach the mass more easily. Then it will be up to us and our abilities to be able to guide them towards more specific topics.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF INTERNAL SITE RESEARCH
Another method to find useful and functional keywords for your SEO project is to take advantage of internal site searches. Google Analytics provides you with this data, which is gold when it comes to keywords.
The idea is simple: by analyzing the internal search you can see if there are keywords that users are looking for but which are not present on your site and use them for creating content.
I talked about it more specifically in this article on how to increase website traffic, where you can find two different ways of exploiting internal searches.
FINAL CREATION OF KEYWORD LIST
Let’s briefly summarize the basic steps to follow:
- Ask yourself the right questions to create a first panorama of keywords.
- Identify keywords that correspond to the intention of research using the long tail.
- Expand the list (Google Suggest, Ubersuggest).
- Define the list (Keyword Planner).
- Enrich (synonyms, original language terms, induction and deduction, internal searches).
Once this is done, the next step is to correctly insert the keywords into the content.
Often a lot of keyword research becomes vain for the wrong use of them. For this, I refer you to this super complete post that you find on this site and that was also a source of inspiration for me: Advanced On-Page SEO. So I hope you will like it, don’t forget to share it. Stay tuned for the more amazing blog post.